Alums Inducted Into Hall of Fame
Sep 18, 2015
This weekend, Villa Madonna Academy inducted nine athletes into its Athletic Hall of Fame. These athletes were standouts at Villa and as they went on to college and careers. The Hall of Fame Inductees are: Mary Jo Dressman Pursley ‘77, Fredda Simpson ‘81, Lisa Warman ‘81, Stephanie Scheper Gillcrist ‘83, Beth Rechtin Venard ‘89, Regina Noll Ransdell ‘93, J. J. Santos ‘93, Kate O’Toole ‘01, and Sarah Stamper ‘05
In addition to honoring these accomplished athletes, the Academy will also recognize the state championship swim teams of 1974, 1975, and 1976 and state runners-up in 1972, 1973, and 1977, and the 1980 volleyball team on the 35th anniversary of their state title. The volleyball team won the state championship with an impressive 15-1, 15-3 win over Our Lady of Providence. The team finished 39-2 with one of its two losses to Mother of Mercy High School in Cincinnati who went on to win the Ohio state championship that year. Four members of the team played DI volleyball and another played DIII.
The inductees have many incredible achievements among them. We are VillaProud of all of them.
Mary Jo Dressman Pursley won several swimming state titles and went on to compete at Louisiana State University where she was All-American and the 1981 Female Athlete of the Year. She qualified for the 1980 Olympic Trials in three events and was world-ranked in the 1500 Free in 1979.
Fredda Simpson was All-State in volleyball and an All-Star in softball both her junior and senior years at Villa. She played volleyball at the University of Kentucky where she was All-Academic and All-SEC. Simpson portrayed Ellen Sue, the beauty queen shortstop and pitcher in the movie A League of Their Own.
Lisa Warman was a four-sport athlete at Villa and All-State in volleyball. She went on to play at Florida State University. Warman interned in the FSU Sports Information Department which led to a twelve-year career as a color commentator for women’s college sports, and men’s and women’s beach volleyball.
Stephanie Scheper Gillcrist was a four-year starter on the Villa volleyball team. She was a Kentucky Post All-Star and a member of the inaugural AAU Junior Olympic Volleyball team. Scheper Gillcrist was the regional champ in doubles tennis in 1982. She went on to be a three-year volleyball starter at the University of Tennessee.
Beth Rechtin Venard was a three-sport Villa athlete playing volleyball, basketball, and softball. She was each team’s Most Valuable Player her senior year and named Academic All-State. She received the U.S. Army Reserve National Scholar-Athlete Award. Rechtin Venard played volleyball at Thomas More College and is an inductee into their Hall of Fame.
Regina Noll Ransdell played soccer, volleyball, basketball, and softball at Villa. While a strong all-around athlete, it was in basketball that Noll Ransdell distinguished herself. She was an Enquirer Player of the Week, All-Star, and one of only nine athletes in Villa’s 1,000 Point Club.
J. J. Santos ran cross country and track, and played basketball and tennis at Villa. He also put great effort into making athletic opportunities available to male students when the transition to co-education at the Academy was in its early stages. He went on to run track and play tennis at Bethany College in West Virginia where he earned varsity letters in both.
Kate O’Toole played volleyball and is one of only two Villa athletes to have her jersey retired. She received the statewide Sportsmanship Award and was a Wendy’s High School Heisman national winner. O’Toole played volleyball at Northern Kentucky University where she was Academic All-American.
Sarah Stamper was NKAC DII Player of the Year in golf for three years, placed 2nd in the Regional Tournament and 6th in state in 2004, and was named Enquirer Player of the Year in 2004. Stamper still holds Villa records in tennis and qualified for state in doubles. She golfed for the University of Cincinnati where she was a Big East Academic All-Star.